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Limnophis bicolor GÜNTHER, 1865

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Higher TaxaColubridae (Natricinae), Colubroidea, Caenophidia, Alethinophidia, Serpentes, Squamata (snakes)
Subspecies 
Common NamesE: Bicolored Swamp Snake 
SynonymLimnophis bicolor GÜNTHER 1865: 96
Limnophis bicolor — BOCAGE 1866: 47
Helicops bicolor — MONARD 1931: 102
Glypholycus bicolor — WITTE 1933: 86
Glypholycus bicolor — LAURENT 1947: 10
Limnophis bicolor — BROADLEY 1998
Limnophis bicolor — BROADLEY et al. 2003: 175
Limnophis bicolor — WALLACH et al. 2014: 384
Limnophis bicolor — CONRADIE et al. 2020 
DistributionSW Angola, S Zambia (Okavango and Zambezi drainage basins), E/S Democratic Republic of the Congo (Zaire), elevation 1000 - 1800 m.  
Reproductionoviparous 
TypesSyntypes: BMNH 1946.1.14.53-54 
DiagnosisDiagnosis (genus): “Habit stout, cylindrical; form of the head as in Tropidonotus; tail rather short. Scales smooth, short, in nineteen rows; anal and subcaudals divided. A single anterior and two posterior frontals; loreal present. Maxillary teeth in an uninterrupted series, gradually increasing in size posteriorly, the last being distinctly larger than the preceding, and not grooved” (Günther 1865: 96; still valid fide W. Conradie, pers. comm. 12 July 2020).

General description: The body is cylindrical and elongated, tapering gradually to a rela- tively short tail (males: 20–23% of total length, females: 16–20% of total length). Head is small and barely wider than the ‘neck’. The eye is medium to large with a round pupil. Dorsal scales smooth with no apical pits, in 19-19-17 scale rows; ventrals 130–143 males, 127–139 females; cloaca divided; paired subcaudals 50–61 males, 37–57 females. One (rarely two) preocular; the nasal suture intersects the 1st supralabial and not the loreal; two postoculars; temporals usually 1+2 (sometimes 1+3+3, 1+2+3, 1+3+4), the parietal rarely in direct contact with 6th supralabial (in 32% of specimens examined); supralabials usually 8–9 (rarely 7), 3rd and 4th (sometimes 3rd, 4th and 5th) contacting eye, 6th the largest; infralabials 9–10, first five (rarely first four) in contact with 1st chin shield. Maxillary teeth 26–31, slightly increasing in size posteriorly (Bogert 1940), Conradie et al. 2020).

Colouration: The dorsum is uniform dark olive green to black, with 5–7 dark vertebral scale rows, often bordered by a broad pale brown stripe on either side of the body, 3–4 scale rows wide. Lateral edges of ventrals dark, joining the darker lower dorsal scales. Supra- and infralabials cream coloured, but dark brown to black-edged anteriorly, giving the appearance of a vertically barred lip. The venter varies from pale yellowish to reddish with no markings (Conradie et al. 2020).

Size: Largest male 405 + 137 = 542 mm (TM 55550, Tchivinguiro, Angola); largest female 553 + 106 (t) = 660 mm (NMZB 10731, Ikelenge, Zambia). Bocage (1985) recorded a larger female with a total length of 760 mm (Conradie et al. 2020). 
CommentLimnophis bicolor bangweolicus MERTENS 1936 has been elevated to full species status.

Type species: Limnophis bicolor GÜNTHER 1865 is the type species of the genus Limnophis GÜNTHER 1865. Previously the genus was considered as a member of the Colubrinae.

Habitat: Mostly associated with streams and lagoons in the higher plateaus of Angola, Zambia and DRC. Except for the two low-lying records with a degree of uncertainty (e.g. Bengo and Kinshasa), most of the known occurrences are at elevations between 1 000 and 1 800 m (Conradie et al. 2020). 
References
  • Auerbach, R.D. 1987. The Amphibians and Reptiles of Botswana. Mokwepa Consultants, Botswana, 295 pp.
  • Bocage,J.V. du B. 1866. Lista dos reptis das possessões portuguezas d'Africa occidental que existem no Museu Lisboa. Jorn. Sci. Math. Phys. Nat. Lisboa 1: 37-56
  • Broadley, D. G. 1974. The Striped Swamp Snake Limnophis bicolor - A New Snake for Rhodesia. J. Herp. Assoc. Africa (12): 8-8 - get paper here
  • Broadley, D.G. 1991. The Herpetofauna of Northern Mwinilunga Distr., Northw. Zambia. Arnoldia Zimbabwe 9 (37): 519-538
  • Broadley, D.G. 1998. The reptilian fauna of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (Congo-Kinshasa). In: Schmidt, K.P. and Noble, G.K., Contributions to the Herpetology of the Belgian Congo... [reprint of the 1919 and 1923 papers]. SSAR Facsimile reprints in Herpetology, 780 pp.
  • Broadley, D.G.; Doria, C.T. & Wigge, J. 2003. Snakes of Zambia. An Atlas and Field Guide. Edition Chimaira, Frankfurt, 280 pp. [review in Sauria 26 (3): 21]
  • Broadley, Donald G. and F. P. D. Cotterill. 2004. The reptiles of southeast Katanga, an overlooked 'hot spot'. [Congo]. African Journal of Herpetology 53 (1): 35-61. - get paper here
  • Chifundera, K. 1990. Snakes of Zaire and their bites. Afr. Stud. Monogr. (Kyoto) 10(3): 137-157.
  • Chippaux, Jean-Philippe & Kate Jackson 2019. Snakes of Central and Western Africa. Johns Hopkins University Press, 448 pp. - get paper here
  • Conradie W, Bills R, and Branch WR. 2016. The herpetofauna of the Cubango, Cuito, and lower Cuando river catchments of south-eastern Angola. Amphibian & Reptile Conservation 10 (2) [Special Section]: 6–36 - get paper here
  • Conradie, Werner; V Deepak , Chad Keates & David J Gower 2020. Kissing cousins: a review of the African genus Limnophis Günther, 1865 (Colubridae: Natricinae), with the description of a new species from north-eastern Angola. African Journal of Herpetology - get paper here
  • Günther, A. 1865. Fourth account of new Species of Snakes in the Collection of the British Museum. Ann. Mag. Nat. Hist. (3) 15: 89-98. - get paper here
  • Haagner,G.V.; Branch,W.R. & Haagner,A.J.F. 2000. Notes on a collection of reptiles from Zambia and adjacent areas of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Annals of the Eastern Cape Museum 1: 1 – 25
  • Laurent, R. 1947. Notes sur quelques reptiles appartenant a la collection du Musée Royal d'Histoire Naturelle de belgique. Bull. Mus. Hist. nat. Belg. 23 (16): 1-12
  • Marques, Mariana P.; Luis M. P. Ceríaco , David C. Blackburn , and Aaron M. Bauer 2018. Diversity and Distribution of the Amphibians and Terrestrial Reptiles of Angola -- Atlas of Historical and Bibliographic Records (1840–2017). Proc. Cal. Acad. Sci. (Ser. 4) 65: 1-501 (Supplement II)
  • Monard, ALBERT 1931. Mission scientifique Suisse dans l'Angola. Résultats scientifiques. Reptiles. Bull. Soc. Neuchâtel Sci. Nat., vol. 33, pp. 89-111. [1930] - get paper here
  • Wallach, Van; Kenneth L. Williams , Jeff Boundy 2014. Snakes of the World: A Catalogue of Living and Extinct Species. [type catalogue] Taylor and Francis, CRC Press, 1237 pp.
  • Witte, G. F. de 1933. Reptiles récoltés au Conge Belge par le Dr. H. Schouteden et par M. G.-F. Witte. Ann. Mus. Conge belge Zool. Ser. 1 Tome III: 53-100.
 
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